What Are Futures Contracts?
The futures are financial contracts in which the buyer and the seller of a particular commodity (gold, wheat, salt, sugar, coffee, etc.) agree after a set time to exchange a certain amount of that commodity for a fixed price. A sort of insurance for the future is stipulated between the parties. Futures are useful because, for obvious reasons, it is not possible to predict the prices of wheat or sugar in the future, (months or years in advance). The use of futures contracts helps producers (like farmers) avoid a price too low or too high in the future. In other words, a contract is made in which it is stipulated that the goods will be exchanged at a price agreed in advance. See A Plus assets for more information on the futures market (해외선물).
Futures and Commodity Prices
From a theoretical point of view, everything looked well. But in reality, in a world where as many as one billion people suffer from hunger, the excessive spread of futures leads to unacceptable – if not scandalous – paradoxes. In practice, it happens that there is no longer any relationship between the prices of securities traded on the stock exchange and the raw material physically cultivated in the fields. Prices are determined by the dynamics created in the “bet”, rather than in the real market. And the real prices follow what has been betted on – practically the price that is artificially formed on the international commodity exchanges (first of all that of Chicago), is transmitted locally. Thus, food prices do not depend so much on how the last harvest went, but also and above all on what happens on the stock exchange. If the price of wheat goes up in Chicago, it will go up all over the world, even if fundamentals haven’t changed and harvests have been good. A clear and recent example is the paradox of the price of milk in Europe in 2011, which doubled within a few weeks, despite the fact that production has always remained constant.
Specific Policies Needed To Limit Number Of Futures Contracts
In the absence of rules that force the delivery or limitation of the number of futures that can be issued or held (with the so-called “position limits”), the dissemination of these instruments is theoretically boundless. And so financial speculations have terrible repercussions on farmers all over the world and cause an acceleration of the phenomenon of instability on world agricultural markets. Which for Westerners means having a lighter wallet, but for many people, it makes the difference between being able to feed on a daily basis or not.
Speculation is part of the instability of the market; to face it, more transparency and more information would be needed. Europe is making progress, but it should be accelerated.